Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii)

U.S. Senator (since May 1990)

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Why He Matters

Akaka is the first native Hawaiian in the Senate, and he has staked his career on issues that matter to the state. In March 2011, he announced he wouldn't seek reelection in 2012.

Though his seniority has ensured him seats on committees that deal with veterans, energy and homeland security, Akaka focuses almost all his legislative efforts trying to pass bills that benefit his constituents and in the 112th Congress, served as chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

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A friend of feds last hearing; Akaka retiring

(Alex Brandon / AP)

Sen. Akaka holds his last hearing on federal workforce issues.

Sen. Daniel Akaka headed back to Washington after bout with dehydration

(Alex Brandon / AP)

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At a Glance

  • Career History: U.S. Representative (1976 to 1990)
  • Birthday: Sept. 11, 1924
  • Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Alma Mater: University of Hawaii, B.A., 1952; University of Hawaii, Masters in Education, 1966
  • Spouse: Mary Mildred Chong
  • Religion: Congregationalist
  • Committees: Chairman, Indian Affairs ; Senate Veterans Affairs ; Armed Services ; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs ; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

Path to Power

Akaka was born in Honolulu. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers soon after graduating from high school, and served in Saipan and Tinian from 1943 through 1947. He began college on the G.I. Bill shortly after returning home, graduating from the University of Hawaii in 1952.

He taught high school from 1953 through 1960, and was then hired as a principal. His political career began when the governor appointed Akaka to direct Hawaii's anti-poverty programs in 1971. He was named Assistant to the Governor in 1975.

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The Issues

Akaka has a solidly liberal voting record, siding with his party 97 percent of the time.

He opposed the Iraq war from the start, along with the bill to create the Homeland Security Department and the Patriot Act. He is slightly less liberal on foreign and defense issues, in large part because Hawaii is vulnerable attacks by rogue states like North Korea due to its location.

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The Network

Akaka often teams with his colleague, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii). The two have co-sponsored several bills, including the 1993 apology resolution. When Akaka faced a strong primary challenge, Inouye campaigned constantly at his side.

He has also worked closely with Alaska GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski and former Sen. Ted Stevens. They share a sense that mainland senators often ignore the needs of their states, and Akaka has gone out of his way to support legislation introduced by them, including allowing offshore oil drilling.

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